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Author Topic: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games  (Read 3793 times)

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mathguy

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Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« on: December 06, 2011, 12:13:07 pm »
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Here are 4 things you should do to become a better player:

1. Know what the cards do.
2. Know your deck.
3. Know your opponent's deck.
4. Know the board

I call these the cardinal rules, because they apply in every game of dominion.


1. Know what the cards do

This sounds like an obvious thing to state, but it is of utmost importance to understand how the cards work. On the most basic level you should understand things like what happens when you play a young witch or a fool's gold. This is a real issue when you are introduced to new cards like those from a new expansion and it takes a while to learn all of these new cards. It sure took me a long time to finally understand what Jack of all Trades does. Obviously you can acquire this knowledge by playing with the cards, but notice that sometimes reading the cards is not sufficient to understand what they do (Did you understand what tournament did the first time you read it?)

Once you have a basic understanding of the cards you can move on to having a good understanding of what the cards do. This encompasses things that are not obvious from reading a card. For example: (1) playing outpost on an outpost turn will not give you a third turn, and you will only draw 3 cards for your next turn; (2) playing King's Court-Wharf will give you 6 cards this turn and next turn, but playing KC-KC-Wharf-Wharf-Wharf will not give you 3x3x2 cards next turn. These non-obvious interactions are probably going to become clear with the more games you play. The dominion strategy list of combos is also a good source of information. A good understanding also means that you know in what order you should play your cards. A simple example is venture before bank, a more complicated example is with cartographer, venture, loan, moat, scheme.

Knowing what the cards do also covers remembering what the cards do. Pawn isn't just +1 card, +1 action and Tournament isn't just a gateway to followers. You can use Pawn for +1 card, +1 buy and you can use Tournament to grab a Diadem first even though you usually do not want to. Try to keep all of the uses of a card in your bag of tricks. For example: (1) After all of the Prizes are gone you do not need to reveal a province when you play a tournament, so you can avoid taking a Duchy; and (2) You can Mine a gold 'down' into a potion (in order to keep your Alchemists, say).

Similarly, you can usually discount cards like Thief, Bureaucrat and Possession when looking through the opening setup, but not always. So don't forget about them as even they shine sometimes. (Yes I know I put Possession in the same category as Thief and Bureaucrat. I mean this in the sense that these cards will rarely help you win the game and you can usually just ignore them. I do understand though that an opponent with a Possession is scarier than an opponent with a thief.)

2. Know your deck

This is such an important thing to know that it has its own article: http://dominionstrategy.com/2011/06/24/guest-article-deck-control/

Getting good at this will change the way you play. I have often passed on playing my Upgrade because I knew my deck well. I have also passed on playing Wharf. It is not often that this happens, but when it does happen I know that I have (probably) avoided some pretty terrible action clashing. The point here is that skill (of knowing your deck) can help mitigate the negative effects of "luck".

3. Know your opponent's deck

This is the complement to rule 2 and much of the same techniques apply- Know what your opponent has bought, how many points they have, know if they have played their big cards (gold, nasty attack, wharf, etc.), how many cards they have left (roughly) until a reshuffle, how many cards they have in hand, etc. Of course the knowledge you get from your opponent is incomplete (they don't show you what victory cards they have in hand, they don't have to play all of their action cards, you can't count their deck, etc.) but you can still get some information.

The most obvious way to use this information is with Possession. If you haven't seen their pile of gold and KC yet, go ahead and possess them. If you have reason to suspect that they have a bad hand (maybe you have seen all of their good cards so far) then maybe you don't want to play Possession. Similarly, know how many possessions your opponent has left in their deck! If your opponent is down to 4 cards in their deck and you still haven't seen their second possession then maybe you buy that province and discard all of your treasuries (instead of putting them on top of your deck).

Smugglers is also an interesting case. Suppose you and your opponent both open silver/smugglers (like the awesome people you are  ;)). If you haven't seen their smuggler by turn 4, you know it is coming on turn 5. You can choose to buy that Tournament as usual (which will get smuggled), or maybe you choose to buy a silver instead, so that you stay up on tournaments. (N.B. I'm not saying that you should try to win the tournament race early, but that you should be aware of what your opponent will do).

A third application of the rule 'Know your opponent's deck' is 'don't let your opponent know your deck'. Well, what do I mean here? Don't do things you don't need to do, especially when it gives your opponent information about your deck. For example if your hand is --crossroads, crossroads, gold, curse, potion -- there is no need to play your crossroads; doing this will just show your opponent that you got a lot of your crossroads together. Also in this example, don't play your potion if you don't need to. Why should you let your opponent know for free that you won't be able to buy a golem on this run through of your deck?

Some cards that lend themselves to needless play: crossroads, shantytown, smugglers (when your opponent didn't gain anything).
 
4. Know the board

This covers basics like: "What cards are on the board?" and "How many cards are in each supply pile?"
Your knowledge of the board should include obvious things like is there any source or +actions, +cards or +buys, but you probably already include this in your first turn scan. (Remember that contraband gives +buy). Non-obviously though, you should know something about the black market deck (if it is present); are there game changers in the BM deck? Victory cards? Possession?

I love three-piling the game. I seems like a very sophisticated way to end the game. Fortunately for me, many of my opponents are not looking for a three pile end. Especially in games with +buys and cheap cards be mindful of how close the game is to over. In games with tons of buys and cost-lowering, you might even want to end the game by buying all 8 of the initial estates! One of the most overlooked aspects here is the curse pile. It does count towards the end of the game and in games with curse givers there is a very good chance that the curse pile will empty. Don't overlook buying a curse (or two) to end the game.

I hope that adds to the way people play the game. Also, I'm sure that I forgot some other cardinal rules (Don't commit suicide, ...) but I will add them if people want.
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Buggz

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 12:37:43 pm »
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(2) playing King's Court-Wharf will give you 6 cards this turn and next turn, but playing KC-KC-Wharf-Wharf-Wharf will not give you 3x3x2 cards next turn
Unless I misunderstood something (quite possible), Isotropic begs to differ:

Your turn 16
You draw 2 Golds and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You had played the Wharf with a King's Court.
You draw a Gold and a Silver and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw a King's Court and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You had played the Wharf with a King's Court.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You had played the Wharf with a King's Court.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.

Wharf has no "while this is in play" clause. I only draw nothing because the deck's empty, but apart from that..
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 12:46:26 pm by Buggz »
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 01:28:21 pm »
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(2) playing King's Court-Wharf will give you 6 cards this turn and next turn, but playing KC-KC-Wharf-Wharf-Wharf will not give you 3x3x2 cards next turn
Unless I misunderstood something (quite possible), Isotropic begs to differ:

Your turn 16
You draw 2 Golds and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You had played the Wharf with a King's Court.
You draw a Gold and a Silver and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw a King's Court and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You had played the Wharf with a King's Court.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You had played the Wharf with a King's Court.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.
You draw nothing and get +1 buy from your Wharf.

Wharf has no "while this is in play" clause. I only draw nothing because the deck's empty, but apart from that..
I think you did misunderstand something. That's only 3x3, not 3x3x2. But then I'm also misunderstanding something I think, because I don't understand what the OP is trying to say people THINK is happening.

Buggz

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2011, 01:34:19 pm »
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Note that each line in the log represents two cards being drawn, not one.

EDIT: If it's so that you only draw 3x2 cards I'd like to know why, I'm happy to be proven wrong. As I see it each of the three wharves is played thrice, making nine played wharves giving you two cards each.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 02:01:01 pm by Buggz »
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mnavratil

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 02:12:44 pm »
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I think you did misunderstand something. That's only 3x3, not 3x3x2. But then I'm also misunderstanding something I think, because I don't understand what the OP is trying to say people THINK is happening.

That is 3x3 plays of Wharf with 2 cards each for a total of 3x3x2 = 18 cards drawn (if you actually had more cards to draw), right?

EDIT: Nevermind, beaten by Buggz
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barsooma

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 02:36:44 pm »
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I think the OP may have been confused by Donald's waffling on the rules of when KC and TR stay in play with durations vs being cleaned up.

KC-KC-Wharf-Wharf-Wharf does and has always given 18 draws on both turns, but I think whether or not both KC's stay out during the 1st cleanup did change at some point.
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Toskk

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2011, 03:17:53 pm »
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I think the OP may have been confused by Donald's waffling on the rules of when KC and TR stay in play with durations vs being cleaned up.

KC-KC-Wharf-Wharf-Wharf does and has always given 18 draws on both turns, but I think whether or not both KC's stay out during the 1st cleanup did change at some point.

Ok wait, now I'm confused too.. so despite the fact that Donald ruled that only the second King's Court would stay out (i.e. 1x King's Court and 3x Wharfs), on the second turn you still treat the non-kept King's Court as being in play? That really doesn't make sense to me.. the whole point of keeping/not keeping the King's Court (and durations in general) is so you don't have effects from previous turns to keep track of mentally. :P
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Buggz

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2011, 03:22:35 pm »
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Put all three wharves on top of the sole King's Court, problem solved.
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Toskk

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2011, 03:28:24 pm »
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Put all three wharves on top of the sole King's Court, problem solved.

Bleh.. nm.. confusion resolved.. I fail at basic math apparently. :P
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2011, 03:49:13 pm »
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Note that each line in the log represents two cards being drawn, not one.

EDIT: If it's so that you only draw 3x2 cards I'd like to know why, I'm happy to be proven wrong. As I see it each of the three wharves is played thrice, making nine played wharves giving you two cards each.
Stupidity mine. I was thinking 3x3 wharf plays, not 3x3 cards drawn.

philosophyguy

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2011, 04:04:00 pm »
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I think it's sufficiently different from "know the board" that it deserves its own mention: know what the state of the board is. Most people know to watch the Province/Colony piles, but keeping track of the possibility of 3-pile endings is less common and a lot of times individuals miss opportunities to end the game on piles (or for their opponent to do so quickly).
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Wingnut

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Re: Cardinal Rules - Rules that apply in most games
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2011, 10:38:36 pm »
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I think it's sufficiently different from "know the board" that it deserves its own mention: know what the state of the board is. Most people know to watch the Province/Colony piles, but keeping track of the possibility of 3-pile endings is less common and a lot of times individuals miss opportunities to end the game on piles (or for their opponent to do so quickly).

I agree completely. I played a game earlier today where my opponent wasn't aware of this and left 1 Border Village along with one city for me with one pile already depleted. I took the border village to city and finished off the win.
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